CASUAL DINING REVIEWS
SR RATED RESTAURANTS & DINING ESTABLISHMENTS
Zinc Bistro - April 11th, 2021:
This edition of the Scottsdale Road restaurant review will focus on a local favorite, Zinc Bistro, located at Kierland Commons in North Scottsdale. Zinc Bistro is yet another local "bistro style" restaurant specializing in French cuisine. It's definitely a more traditional take on the "bistro style" restaurant. If you've ever visited France, you'll recognize it as such the minute you walk through the doors. I think you'll be quite happy with the experience. With an upscale feel and inviting atmosphere, it will certainly appeal to most. Zinc Bistro offers a wonderful Parisian Style dining room and bar with the added bonus of a magnificent patio - perfect for enjoying the wonderful spring weather, here in Scottsdale.
Zinc offers a wide variety of Parisian favorites which are sure to please; from the Moules Marinieres and Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras to the Roasted Duck Breast and Provencal Bouillabaisse. Take an authentic trip to France without ever leaving Scottsdale!
On my recent visit I opted to be seated at the bar, where the crowd was lively and the drinks were oh so good! I ordered the Premium Shellfish Tower, which came complete with lobster, oysters, grilled shrimp, snow crab claws, and mussels. This baby was tasty to say the least and quite filling. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it! If you love seafood you will surely be in heaven!
While I didn't enjoy a full dinner I'm certain it would be out of this world. I spoke to a couple of fellow foodies on my way out and asked them if they enjoyed their dinner, they smiled and said, "the food was fantastic!" Need I say more? I'm certain they'll be back again and again, as will I.
As for my choice of libations, I selected a dirty martini for starters which was absolutely wonderful (it's kind of hard to screw up a dirty martini). Next, I opted for my signature tequila cocktail consisting of a refreshing blanco tequila with a splash of soda, muddled jalapeno, and a squeeze of lime, served on the rocks with a perfectly salted rim. The bartender did a magnificent job with this baby and I was very happy, to say the least! There's something to be said for getting it right and right she did!
While Zinc Bistro offers so much more than I enjoyed on my recent visit, what I did experience was tremendous, and very much worth the trip. The bar is lively and fun, the people are friendly and accommodating and if you're looking for a great place to meet family and/or friends for drinks, you'll definitely want to sit at the Zinc bar! Feeling hungry? Take a crack it Zinc Bistro's magnificent French inspired menu, it looks fantastic and I'm told it's out of this world!
Bon Appetit my fellow foodies!
Culinary Dropout - March 21st, 2021:
For those of you who don't know, Culinary Dropout is a great restaurant with multiple locations in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. For the purpose of this review I'll focus on the Scottsdale location (Scottsdale Quarter). Culinary Dropout is not only a great place for grabbing a bite, and a cocktail or two, but it's great for people watching or playing one of the many games in their open, festive environment (Cornhole, Ping-Pong, etc.). Simply put, IT"S FUN!
I've visited Culinary Dropout multiple times over the past couple of years and it's definitely one of my "go to" restaurants when I want to meet up with friends - it usually fires on all cylinders. Unfortunately, on this particular occasion, it was not "all that." Here's how my recent experience unfolded.
When I came time to order I wanted a starter, and for my appetizer I ordered-up one of my favorites, the onion-rings. While onion-rings are a simple dish, some restaurants just can't get it right. Culinary Dropout makes a good onion-ring for certain and I recommend them! Next, I ordered one of my favorites at Dropout, and they do it oh so well, the Pepperoni & Sausage Detroit Style Pan Pizza. Nine times out of ten the Pan Pizza is outstanding, and a slice of heaven (pardon the pun). Unfortunately this time it was anything but heavenly. The crust and toppings were actually burnt to a crisp and I mean to a crisp! The pepperoni and sausage were actually like little pieces of charcoal. I'm sad to have to report this on my latest visit but I must speak the truth.
Regrettably, the pizza wasn't the only item that was less than perfect. My "go to" cocktail is a refreshing blanco tequila with a splash of soda, muddled jalapeno and a squeeze of lime, served on the rocks with a perfectly salted rim. Another big miss here again, my cocktail was abysmal. To be perfectly honest, it was probably the worst I've ever had. Fortunately, on previous visits to Dropout, the bartender is usually spot-on with a perfect mix! Just not on this night. . .
Needless to say, because of the less than ideal meal, I opted for no dessert on this occasion. I really just wanted to get out as soon as possible and erase the experience from my memory.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention something good about Culinary Dropout. My server and food runner were both very good; friendly, smiling and trying to be as helpful as they could possibly be - just what I would expect. This night was just a bad experience at the Dropout - it sometimes happens but we all know how important consistency is in the restaurant biz. . .
I couldn't let this experience go without saying something to the manager. On my way out I had a brief conversation with the manager. He was nice enough and I let him know of my experience. Unfortunately, the response I received was merely to pacify me, and nothing more. He simply smiled and nodded his head. That ain't going to cut it this time, not with so many great dining choices in the Scottsdale area. I mentioned the failures in the kitchen (on the line) with letting food get to a table with seemingly no oversight or regard for food quality or presentation. Again, a smile and obligatory head nod. Come on man, put a little effort into what you're doing!
Alright, so here's the deal, I like Culinary Dropout for multiple reasons and I will revisit the N. Scottsdale location (because that's what I do). My expectations are quite high and that being said, I would still recommend Culinary Dropout. I'm just hoping that someone will take responsibility for the failures with more than the obligatory head not and a forced smile. CD really offers great food, friendly staff and a lively atmosphere, hopefully the next time I visit I'll have a better experience! I still say, give Culinary Dropout a try and let me know what you think, it matters to me and the rest of the Scottsdale Road subscribers. Bon Appetit my fellow foodies!
Local Bistro - March 5th, 2021:
To add to what seems like an endless array of wonderful dining options in the Scottsdale area, we offer the Local Bistro, located in N. Scottsdale (N. Hayden & Thompson Peak). Local Bistro is exactly what its name implies, a local bistro. It's a modern, upscale bistro with a warm inviting atmosphere which is just part of the total package this little gem offers (I almost forgot, a wonderful patio for alfresco dining). Local Bistro offers a wide range of dishes from small plates, like the Drunk Bread (a must try) to Wood Fired Pizzas, Pastas, Steaks and seafood. Whew. . . quite the selection.
The perfect beginning to my dining excursion was the Drunk Bread and as I mentioned previously, it's a must try. It's crusty bread with swiss fondue cheese and the hint of white wine. Dig in, you're going to love it!
Next, I had the Chopped Salad complete with avocado, bacon lardons, bulgarian feta cheese, tomatoes, dates, pistachios and a light balsamic vinaigrette with basil. Fresh, light and fantastic!
I was craving pasta so for my main, I selected the Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese Pasta and let me tell you I'm glad I did. Pasta is pasta, right? No, not so fast my friends, this pasta is head and shoulders above others I've tried and I highly recommend it! The chef takes braised beef, pork and veal (a delicious trifecta of meats) in a San Marzano tomato ragu sauce, capped with parmesan cheese - a little slice of heaven that's certain to please!
This wonderful excursion would not be complete without something sweet, so I opted for the Tiramisu, of course. I found the Tiramisu to be very good, not the best I've ever tried(I'm actually quite the Tiramisu connoisseur), but good. It was a sweet ending to a delightful meal.
Of course I enjoyed with a wonderful wine selection, suggested by my waiter (Adelshiem from Oregon's Willamette Valley). The perfect paring for the San Marzano tomato ragu sauce.
Alright, here's the deal, when you're looking for a good dining spot for a casual date, a family gathering or just an excuse to get out of the house, Local Bistro is a wonderful option in N. Scottsdale. It's great food, friendly staff and "local feel" atmosphere will definitely make you feel right at home. Give it a try and be sure to let Brandon know the folks at Scottsdale Road sent you!
Bon Appetit my fellow foodies!
All American Modern Sports Grill - March 1st, 2021:
This place is cool, especially for a "sports bar." It's an modern take on the traditional sports bar, with an added bonus. What's the bonus you might ask? Well, it's the whiskey bar, Cask 53 Whiskey Bar to be specific.
A couple of things I love about All American Modern Sports Grill are the food and atmosphere - especially the warm, cozy Cask 53 Whiskey Bar and patio (complete with fireplace - of course)! For what it is, a sports bar, it's definitely higher-end, which is what you'd expect for the area. Of course it comes complete with countless television screens, to catch your favorite team, and that cozy atmosphere I mentioned for a fun night out with the boys or the girls! This place is a great social spot for meeting interesting locals or those visiting the Scottsdale/Phoenix area.
Beginning with an ice-cold Dos Equis Lager, salted rim and lime to make it "interesting." Next, I had the Buffalo Cauliflower (trying to be healthy) flash fried and tossed in a buffalo sauce and topped with blue cheese crumbles - excellent flavor! To accompany the Buffalo Cauliflower I had the Shishito Peppers served with the house Ponzu sauce. Awesome, and only $7 - you can pay twice that in other eating establishments in the Scottsdale area. . .
For the main course I ordered up the All American Cheese Burger. When in Rome eat as the Romans do or the Scottsdaleans as it were (is that a word? It is now!). At the end of the day, it's a burger but a solid burger for those keeping track. When I saw the Baby Back BBQ Ribs I just had to try them and they were good, not out of this world but good. Would I try them again - I think so, but I like ribs!
To finish up I had to try the the Bourbon Pecan Pie - it was great, full of flavor and very sweet. What meal is complete without a nice bourbon to finish things off? Answer: not meal is complete without a good bourbon! I retired to the patio, with a nice seat in front of the fireplace and sipped one of my favorites, Angels Envy - neat!
So let me sum it all up for you foodies and sports fans out there, All American Modern Sports Bar/Cask 53 Whiskey Bar is a solid restaurant/bar. Good food, friendly staff and great bourbons. I almost forgot, comfortable environment and plenty of televisions for catching the game!
Give All American Modern Sports Grill/Cask 53 Whiskey Bar a try, for a casual afternoon or evening out - I think you'll enjoy it!
Richardson's/Rokerij Restaurant - February 27th, 2021:
We are happy to add yet another wonderful dining choice in the Scottsdale/Central Phoenix area. Richardson's/Rokerij Restaurant, which by the way are sister restaurants, serving nearly identical menus, and another one of the valley's tasty offerings.
Richardson's/Rokerij Restaurant is a cozy restaurant offering tasty New Mexican cuisine with a kick, and a whole lot of atmosphere. This casual dining establishment is about as cozy as you'll find in the area with its warm, inviting atmosphere, comfortable booths/tables and dimly-lit dining rooms. As an added bonus, take a quick walk down the stone encased stairwell to the Rokerij bar and enjoy a seat at the comfortable bar or in front of the roaring fire. It's hot!
The food is spectacular, if truly unique Southwestern cuisine is what you fancy. My meal started with a signature cocktail - Tequila, soda, muddled jalapeno and lime. The flavors of the jalapeno, lime and tequila are a fantastic, refreshing combination. A great way to start a meal and warm up the taste buds.
To begin, I had the Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos - these babies are large grilled jalapenos wrapped in bacon and stuffed with Asiago cheese. This amazing combination of smokey-bacon, cheese and jalapenos is delightful and filled with flavor. I love this choice and highly recommend it, but be careful as you just might catch one of the very hot jalapenos!
For my main course, I had the Grilled, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. Did I say bacon again, you bet I did! If bacon is part of the equation you simply cannot go wrong! These jumbo shrimp were grilled to smokey perfection and served with rice and beans atop a tortilla. This is another must try and what I would consider a Richardson's/Rokerij signature dish!
Next, I tried the Pasta Heidi - this astounding pasta dish is prepared in a tomato, avocado, garlic cream sauce and packed with grilled chicken. As an added bonus, for those of you who love authentic New Mexican flavors, green chili linguini! Another home run and an absolute must try!
For dessert, I opted for yet another refreshing Tequila with muddled jalapeno and lime. What a great finish to a spectacular New Mexican feast.
Keep in mind, the menu at Richardson's/Rokerij is much more expansive than detailed here so you'll have to see for yourself. They offer everything from New Mexican Gumbo to Schnitzel, Surf and Turf and so much more - all with a New Mexican flare. While Richardson's/Rokerij is a definite must try, I recommend patience as our server was a bit slow with the refills. That said, she was knowledgeable with the menu and as friendly as can be. By the way, don't forget to make a reservation, you'll definitely need it as they tend to fill up fast and don't forget to go downstairs and enjoy cocktails by the romantic fireplace. Ask for Joel, he will take care of you with a smile and a generous pour!
Will I be going back to Richardson's/Rokerij again - YOU BET I WILL!
The Living Room Wine Cafe & Lounge - November 21st, 2020:
What I love about The Living Room; well I love pretty much love everything about this place. For what it is, I think it's one of SR's best picks in N. Scottsdale. It's got a hip vibe, a pretty crowd, great food, great cocktails, very comfortable living-room-like seating and great service/servers.
I started my dining experience with a Chicken Pesto Flatbread that was great! Crispy crust, moist chicken and a wonderful flavor. Next, for my entree, I ordered several sushi rolls, which by the way were fantastic! I recommend the K.I.G., the Poppin, and the Vegas rolls. For not being a "traditional sushi" restaurant, they've got fantastic rolls that did not disappoint. I'm guessing Tom Kaufman stole the chef from one of the local sushi restaurants or maybe he brought him over from Japan. Either way, the sushi was fabulous!
To finish my dining experience I had to try the Warm Pizza Cookie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce - AWESOME! Oh, and I didn't forget a bourbon on the rocks to round out the perfect meal, ah. . . the perfect ending to the perfect meal.
I recommend The Living Room for a host of reasons from the personal touch, Owner Tom Kaufman ads as he works the room and interacts with his patrons, to its fabulous atmosphere. The bar staff is good and always friendly. Did I mention, this is a great date spot and can only add to the romantic experience you might have already planned?
There's nothing I don't like about the Living Room! Give it a try, it won't disappoint!